Electric vehicles – both plug-in hybrid EVs and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) continue to grow in popularity. Some consumers are enticed by cost savings associated with fewer trips to the gas station, others by a desire to be kinder to the environment by driving a vehicle that emits zero tailpipe emissions. The federal government and the State of Maryland both offer incentives for the purchase of EVs. These incentives take the form of tax credits, rebates and even access to travel in high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of people in the car.
Understanding Electric Vehicle Charging Station Levels
Just like there are different grades of gasoline, there are different levels of EV charging stations. The “level” refers to how quickly a charger will recharge the batter of an electric vehicle. Different chargers produce a different amount of kW output, and those that produce a higher output charge EV batteries faster. Here’s a summary of different EV charging station levels:
- Level 1 – A Level 1 charger cord is typically included with the purchase of an electric vehicle. This is the slowest type of charging but is often the most practical residential solution. The L1 charger cord may be plugged directly into a standard 120V outlet. At Milton Electric, we recommend installing an outlet with a dedicated circuit from your panel to where you would like to charge your car. This will prevent other appliances in your home from potentially shorting out while your car is charging.
- Level 2 – The type of charger most frequently found in public spaces, such as parking lots, hotels and stores, is generally a Level 2 charging station. An L2 charger usually operates at 240V. Many electric vehicle drivers opt to have their electrician install an L2 charger in their home’s garage for faster at-home charging compared to using the manufacturer-supplied L1 charger. At Milton Electric, we receive many requests for Level 2 residential installations. An L2 charger can charge an electric car up to 10 times faster than an L1 charger.
- Level 3 – Direct Current Fast Chargers, or DCFC, is another name for Level 3 charging stations. L3 used DC power instead of AC, and is the fastest type of charging station available. Due to their high cost and high power draw, L3 chargers are available only in commercial or industrial settings. It is important to note that not every electric vehicle can be charged with an L3 charger.
How Quickly You Can Expect Your EV To Charge
The speed with which your electric vehicle will charge is based on many factors, such as whether your car’s batteries are empty or full, how much charge your vehicle is able to accept at once (its charging rate), your vehicle’s battery size, the weather conditions (very cold or very hot weather can prolong charging times) and the power of the charging station. Forbes estimates that charging an EV with a 60kW battery (such as the Chevy Bolt) from 10% battery level to 80% battery level will take 30 to 40 hours with a Level 1 charger, 2.5 to 4.5 hours with a Level 2 charger and 30-40 minutes with a Level 3 charger.
Where to Charge Your EV, Hybrid or Converted Electric Car
If you are charging your vehicle away from home, there are many Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations in Baltimore and the surrounding areas, and many of these public charging stations are free. Alternatively, you can charge your car at home by installing a Level 2 home EV charging station or by simply adding an outlet with a dedicated circuit from your panel to where you would like to charge your car.
Most electric vehicles lend themselves to short drives, but longer hauls like a weekend getaway require a recharge of the batteries in order to keep going (and also to make it back home). If you are planning a trip outside of the Baltimore area, a little advance planning will help your trip run smoothly. To accommodate electric car needs, cities and most small towns have commercial EV charging stations available. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fueling Station Locator is a helpful resource to find nearby electric charging stations anywhere within the U.S. or Canada.